Slang from the Forties!

Slang wasn't as common in the Forties as it is now, most people alive now, can't string a sentence together without using some form of slang, or a word that has been adopted from some type of slang.  

I am in no way suggesting we should all start speaking with Forties slang, as the chances are each of us would only remember a few; resulting in none of us knowing what the other was really saying! However, some of these examples are quite interesting.


These are the ones that where commonly used by soldiers in the U.S. Army during World War 2.

AWOL. Absent without leave.
Aide, or Aide-de-camp. A personal assistant to a general officer.
Base. The element on which a movement is regulated.
Blind. A money fine of a court-martial sentence.
Bob-tail. A dishonourable discharge.
Bucking for orderly. Extra efforts for personal appearance when competing for post of orderly to the commanding officer.
Bust. To reduce a non-commissioned officer to grade of private.
Chow. Food.
Cits. Civilian clothing.
CO or KO. Commanding officer.
Distance. Space between elements in the direction front to rear.
Dogtags. Identification disks.
Doughboy (dough). An infantryman.
Dud. An unexplored shell.
Field, in the. Campaigning against an enemy under actual or assumed conditions.
File. A column of men one behind the other.
Foxhole. Pit dug by a soldier to protect his body.
GI. Government issue; galvanised iron.
Guard house lawyer. A person who knows little but talks much about regulations, military law, and soldiers' "rights."
Hash mark. A service stripe.
Hike. To march.
Hitch. An enlistment period,
I. & I. Inspected and inventoried.
Interval. Space between elements in the direction parallel to the front.
Jawbone. Credit, To buy without money. To shoot a weapon over a qualification course when it doesn't count for record.
Kick. A dishonourable discharge.
KP. Kitchen Porter.
Lance jack. A temporary or acting corporal with the same duties and authority of a regularly appointed corporal but without the pay of the grade.
Mess gear. A soldier's individual mess kit, knife, fork, spoon, and cup.
MP. Military police.
Mule Skinner. A teamster.
Noncom. A non-commissioned officer.
OD. Olive drab or officer of the day.
On the carpet. Called before the commanding officer for disciplinary reasons.
Over the hill. To desert.
Pace. A step 30 inches long.
Piece. The rifle or weapon.
Pup tent. Shelter tent.
Reup or takeon. To reenlist.
Shave tail. A second lieutenant.
Skipper. The company commander.
The old man. The company commander; commanding officer
Top sergeant or top kick. The first sergeant.



A few more general used examples from 1940s life.
Gremlins (bugs or fictional creatures that mess up things - like air-planes)

ticker (heart)
Jitterbug - the Lindy Hop
cats (jazz fans)
Killer Diller (good stuff)
18 Karat (excellent)
Lay some skin on me Flynn! (greeting from a jazz fan)
Alligator or Gator (swing fan - see ya later…)
Beat me daddy, eight to the bar... (play it hot!)
Ball (good time)
Twern't me McGee! (denial - from Fibber Mcgee and Molly radio show)
Snap your cap (blow your cool, get angry)
The bomb (very good - cool)
Hooch, booze (alcohol)
liquorice stick (clarinet)
Greetings Gates (hello!)
threads (clothing)
Well, allreet! (Alright!)
Dame (woman)
What do ya know, what do ya say? (Hello, how are you?)

swell - The word "swell" was in common use by the late 30s, but by some it was considered vulgar. 

The list below comes from "I've Got Wings" Published by the U.S. Army Air Force, Office of Flying Safety.

Ace - a combat pilot with five or more victories.
Blanket Drill - sleeping.
Blind Flying - a date with a girl you've never seen.
Bumps - the effect of up-drafts and downdrafts encountered in flight.
Bunk Flying - talking aviation in quarters.
Buzzing - flying dangerously low over people or property on the ground; (taboo).
Caterpillar Club - a jump for life in a parachute qualifies for membership.
Chinese landing - one wing low.
Clinker - a poorly executed manoeuvre.
Conservatory - a power-operated; glass-enclosed machine gun turret.
Contact - a Warning called out by the pilot to inform the mechanic the ignition switch is on.
Cracking Good Show - highest possible praise of a performance.
Dead Stick - gliding plane, after the engine has conked.
Dogfight - combat between two planes.
Drive It in The Hangar - stop talking aviation.
Dummer - a bonehead act.
Dust Bin - underside rear gun turret in an enemy aircraft.
Eggs - bombs.
Fat Friends - balloons.
Flak - anti-aircraft fire.
Flying The Iron Beam or Iron Compass - pilot flying along railroad.
Flying Pig - aerial torpedo.
Flying the Gauges - instrument flying.
Gain Some Altitude - come to a more erect standing or sitting position. Used to correct the "civilian slouch" in new cadets.
Geese - enemy bomber formation.
Get Eager - do your best; strive to the utmost.
Give It The Gun - advance the throttle to accelerate engine speed.
Glasshouse - power operated turret.
Go Into A Tailspin - get mad.
Going Upstairs - gaining altitude; climbing.
Good Show - a commendable action.
Grab A Brace - come to a position of super attention; usually directed at new cadets.
Hangar Pilot - mechanic who talks a great flight.
Hedge Hopping - low flying.
He's in a Flat Spin - a bit touched.
Hit The Deck - when an aviator lands.
Hitting The Silk - to make a parachute jump.
Hot Crate - a speedy plane.
H. P. - a hot pilot.
Jinking - dodging anti-aircraft fire.
Lame Duck - damaged plane.
Laying The Eggs - dropping bombs.
Life Saver - a parachute.
Mustard - smart pilot.
Office - the pilot's cockpit, usually in a large air-plane.
Onions - flaring anti-aircraft shells.
Overshoot - to glide beyond the landing field before landing.
Pea Shooters - the high-powered planes of the Air Forces.
Pulpit - the cockpit.
Ready Room - the room where pilots on duty assemble, ready for instant call to action.
Reef Back - pull back the stick in flying a plane.
Roll Up Your Flaps - stop talking.
Shoot landings - to acquire practice in landing a plane.
Short Snorter - a member of an unofficial flyers' club, each member of which carries a one dollar bill autographed by fellow short snorters. Any members being unable to show the bill upon request of a fellow member, must forfeit a comparable bill or note to each short snorter present.
Shot Down In Flames - jilted by a girl friend.
Show - action in the air.
Slap On The Coal - open the throttle to give a plane more gas.
Solo - flying alone; hence doing anything else without company.
Spin Off - take a nap; or go to bed.
Spit Curl - a side slip in a plane.
Sugar Report - a letter to or from a girl friend.
Tear Off A Strip - to give someone a bawling out.
Tin Fish - an aerial torpedo.
Woofing - the telling of tall tales.